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Mayor Muriel Bowser Wins D.C. Primary, All But Assuring A Third Term

Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser has won the Democratic nomination for a third term in office Tuesday, setting her up to become the longest-serving leader of the District since “Mayor For Life” Marion Barry.

Mayor Muriel Bowser speaks during Bisnow's D.C. State of the Market event on May 11, 2022.

The mayor campaigned on her record of boosting funding for affordable housing development and increasing the size of the police force, two of the most important issues for D.C. voters this election season.

Bowser defeated three challengers, including Council Member Robert White Jr., who received the second-highest vote total. He had earned 39% of the vote, compared to Bowser's 50%, as of 9:45 p.m., an hour after the Associated Press called the race for the incumbent. 

The nomination in the heavily Democratic city means Bowser will almost assuredly shepherd the District through a post-pandemic vision she began sketching in next year’s budget, which she submitted in March.

Most notably, that budget included almost $500M of funding for the Housing Production Trust Fund, the marquee funding vehicle for new development through which Bowser has attempted to build 36,000 new housing units by 2025. She also laid out plans for increasing homeownership in the District, a particular concern in neighborhoods with high levels of displacement.

Within that housing production goal, first announced as she was coming into her second term, Bowser also said she would bring the District 12,000 new affordable housing units. So far, though, progress on that goal has been difficult, and it has drawn criticism on the campaign trail.

White criticized Bowser for focusing on building new housing while not expanding affordability covenants or rent control, something he pushed for on the D.C. Council.

White, in response to a questionnaire from Bisnow last week, said he was concerned about the number of responses major redevelopment projects like the Reeves Center were getting, saying it "suggests that developers know projects will just go to the mayor’s friends and allies and it is not worth submitting proposals."

In response to the same question, Bowser said the Our RFP model and more recent Equity RFP program was bringing more diverse developers and equitable development opportunities to District-owned sites.

She also touted the progress the District has made since she was first elected, while acknowledging that the pandemic may have "permanently changed the economy," saying "Through prudent financial management, our economy is the envy of states and municipalities across the country."

"This is a precious moment in our city and it deserves a tested, proven leader," Bowser said.

There were several other key primaries in D.C. Tuesday. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson defeated a challenge from attorney Erin Palmer, setting him up to become the longest-serving chair in council history, the Washington Post reported.

In Ward 5, progressive Zachary Parker secured the council seat in an open election, defeating, among a group of lesser-known candidates, Vincent Orange, a former council member who served in the seat until 2007. In Ward 1, incumbent council member Brianne Nadeau fended off challenger Salah Czapary, a former police officer running a campaign focused heavily on crime.

This is a developing story.